This Sunday (22 Sept) Broad Street in the centre of Oxford will be closed to traffic. Cyclox (, the campaign group that serves as the voice of cycling in Oxford, will be taking the opportunity to set out its stall, alongside many other organisations, to be part of the growing movement across the UK calling for low-traffic neighbourhoods.

One car-free day a year, in one street, in a place that proclaims itself ‘a cycling city’? “Big deal! What’s the point of that?” you might think. And you might be right. But it’s a start.

The Broad is arguably one of the most beautiful and architecturally significant streets in the UK, if not the world. With Balliol at one end and the works of Wren, Hawksmoor and Gilbert Scott at the other, it is a streetscape like no other. It should be a wonderful place for residents and visitors to stroll and meet and sit, to have a drink and eat lunch, to buy a book and spend some time. It should be a space to enjoy Oxford at its best.

However, all too often it feels like a place given over to cars and the endless search for parking. Malfunctioning bollards that should serve as filter points create a sneaky rat-run. People walking along and across the Broad are forced back onto the pavements by people in cars demanding the space for their own use.

On Sunday it will be different. The Broad will become a low-traffic neighbourhood. There will be emergency access, should it be needed, but motor traffic will be filtered out and the space will be given over for people to move about however they like, free from the usual nagging worries of a car at your back.

This year, one street will be car-free for one day; next year, perhaps several streets; the year after, perhaps several streets for several days. Bogota, the capital of Colombia, closes the streets in its city centre one Sunday a month to allow people to scoot and skate, walk and ride in a wholly car-free environment. It is, by all accounts, a hugely joyful and hugely popular event. Oxford should follow this lead.

Our city should aim to become the place people come to when they want to ride their bikes. Oxford should be a destination for families and people of all abilities who want to be able to walk and ride together, slowly and safely, visiting one of the most beautiful and celebrated cities in the world without having to worry about needing – or getting run over by – a car.

This Sunday is only a small step, but it could be the start of a long journey. With regular car-free days, investment in protected cycle infrastructure and the recognition that low-traffic environments are good for everyone, a different world is possible.

So, we’ll see you on Sunday. Bring your bike.